Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 1996 - Kazakhstan, 1 January 1996, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa0420.html [accessed 17 April 2014]
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A Cossack leader was imprisoned following an allegedly politically motivated prosecution, and there were allegations that both he and the wife of his lawyer were ill-treated. There were 110 death sentences passed and 101 executions. President Nursultan Nazarbayev dismissed parliament in March after the Constitutional Court ruled that parliamentary elections in 1994 had been legally flawed. In April a referendum approved the extension of the President's term in office until the year 2001. In August a referendum overwhelmingly approved a new Constitution. Elections to a new bicameral parliament started in December and were to be completed early in 1996. Nikolai Gunkin, a Cossack leader, was arrested in October and sentenced the following month to a three-month prison term for "organizing an unsanctioned meeting" in connection with what supporters of Nikolai Gunkin described as a religious procession held in January. There were allegations that the arrest and prosecution were politically motivated. Nikolai Gunkin's supporters claimed that his arrest had been timed to prevent him registering as a candidate in the forthcoming parliamentary elections, and that police had passed up previous opportunities to arrest him. There were also allegations that Nikolai Gunkin was seriously ill-treated during arrest and while in pre-trial detention. Intimidation of Nikolai Gunkin's lawyer Ivan Kravtsov, including a physical assault on his wife Iraida Kravtsova by unidentified people who broke into the family's apartment, led the lawyer to withdraw from the case before the trial. The authorities used the death penalty extensively. It was officially confirmed that 110 death sentences were passed and 101 executions were carried out during the year. Statistics on the application of the death penalty in 1994 were disclosed in statements by officials in March and April. One hundred people had been sentenced to death, of whom seven had had the punishment changed on appeal to imprisonment and one was granted clemency. Other appeals and clemency petitions were still pending. Amnesty International sought further information about the basis for the charge against Nikolai Gunkin, and asked to be informed as to whether investigations were taking place into the alleged ill-treatment of Nikolai Gunkin and the assault on Iraida Kravtsova. Amnesty International continued to call for the commutation of all pending death sentences and for the complete abolition of the death penalty.